(ATTN: UPDATES with comments by analysts)
SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's main newspaper on Wednesday called for sanctions relief ahead of a second summit between leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump, saying that bilateral relations cannot improve without trust-building efforts.
"Improvement in relations and sanctions cannot go side by side," the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling party, said in a commentary.
"If the basis of improvement in relations is respect and trust, then it can be said that the basis of sanctions is hostility and confrontation," it added.
The paper blamed Washington's adherence to its policy of no sanctions relief until the North's denuclearization for causing an almost half-year stalemate in talks between the two countries, saying sanctions would not produce their intended results no matter how long they remain in place.
"Without outside support and help from anybody, our country can move forward with our own power and efforts," the paper said.
It still emphasized Pyongyang's commitment to building lasting and solid peace on the Korean Peninsula by establishing "new relations" with the United States.
The demand marked the latest in a string of calls by the North's media for easing sanctions ahead of a second summit slated for late February between Kim and Trump.
Little progress has been made in denuclearization talks as Pyongyang wants "corresponding" sanctions relief in exchange for steps it has taken since their June summit, while Washington demands more concrete measures.
Separately, North Korea and China could expand economic cooperation this year on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations, said Choi Jang-ho and Rhee Jung-kyun, both analysts at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.
The analysts said China's economic cooperation with North Korea is essential as China is seeking to develop its northeastern areas near their border.
China's northeastern areas could be a logistics hub in case sanctions on North Korea are either eased or lifted, Choi and Rhee said in a paper carried in the Review of the North Korean Economy published by the state-run Korea Development Institute, citing other analysts.
China is North Korea's most important trading partner and a key source of food and fuel, giving Beijing significant leverage over Pyongyang.
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